Hot topics from the May 20 FAUW Board of Directors meeting

Pandemic issues

The FAUW Board has issued a statement on fall 2021 decision making relating to teaching and faculty working conditions.

We briefly discussed some potential approaches to 2021 performance reviews, including re-weighting (e.g., to reduce the impact of your research score). We know there is also a continued need for pandemic considerations for tenure and promotion and will be returning to that topic with the administration soon.

Faculty members who need accommodations for fall (or any) teaching should contact our Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee for advice and referrals.

One small change for P76, one giant leap for lecturer benefits

From Dan Brown’s president’s report: This month at Senate we approved the first small step in the Policy 76/77 revisions, a surgical change to the mandate of the University Appointments Review Committee (UARC), so that it will now no longer be required to consider appointments of exactly two years (it will now review appointments longer than two years). This seemingly tiny change will matter, as it will remove the primary argument for deans to make two-years-minus-one-day appointments, which unfortunately come with fewer benefits than appointments just one day longer. [Editor’s note: This change was approved by the Board of Governors on June 1, making it official. We are asking deans to consider extending relevant appointments by one day.] The P76/77 Policy Drafting Committee will continue their work through the end of the summer, aiming for the August 31 deadline approved by Senate in March.

New travel and expenses policy

From Dan’s president’s report: The university’s president approved a substantial rewrite of Policy 31, the Travel policy, which has been renamed to University Expenses; this results in substantial improvements to reimbursement rates and also (hopefully!) a reduction in documentation required of travellers. It also details how research expenses like working lunches and hospitality will work. UW Finance consulted with FAUW (via Faculty Relations Committee) as part of their discussions of this policy.

Indigenous student scholarships

We have been looking into establishing a scholarship for students from Six Nations of the Grand River, on whose land the Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge campuses are situated. At this meeting, we got into some details about what the award(s) could look like in practice to inform conversations with the Grand River Post Secondary Education Office and the university’s Student Awards & Financial Aid office.

Benefits eligibility grievance outcomes

Adapted from Ken Vetzal’s Pension & Benefits report: In response to grievances filed by FAUW, a subcommittee of the Pension and Benefits Committee (including the P&B liaison to the FAUW Board, Ken Vetzal) was formed last fall with a mandate to provide precise definitions of “continuous University of Waterloo service” (Policy 23 – Eligibility for Pension and Insured Benefits) and “uninterrupted regular full-time service” (Policy 59 – Reduced Workload to Retirement).

Continue reading “Hot topics from the May 20 FAUW Board of Directors meeting”

March 18 Update from the FAUW Board

President’s report to FAUW board

– dan brown, March 16, 2021 [updated March 22]

This was our last meeting in winter; the equinox on March 20 marked the beginning of spring. I hope you’re appreciating the longer days.

I am very pleased that the President announced his support for Policy 14 at the March Senate meeting. The only remaining step is the policy’s approval at April’s Board of Governors meeting. This policy marks a milestone in moving Waterloo into being a better employer of parents of small children. When combined with the bereavement and compassionate leave improvements announced as part of our salary settlement last month, we will have a proper suite of such benefits for our members. Thank you to the drafting committee for their steadfast work on this project.

Jay Dolmage (chair of FAUW’s Equity Committee), Laura McDonald (FAUW’s Communications Officer) and I met with the team of external reviewers of the Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion office. The review team will be working on this project for the next couple of months, and my expectation is that their eventual report will primarily be advisory to Waterloo’s new president. With equity and inclusion being so much a focus of FAUW’s work right now, we’ll be watching very closely to see what comes from this review.

FAUW elections are going to begin soon! I’m so excited to see who will run and be elected to our board. The Elections Committee hosted a well-attended volunteer recruiting event on March 9. We will also have openings on all of our working groups and committees this spring as well.

This is the first FAUW board meeting in seven years without Bryan Tolson on our board; he’s stepped down as Past President after so many years of service as President, Past President, Vice President, Chief Negotiator, FRC member, and board member. Bryan has led FAUW through a tumultuous time, with humour, grace, and excellent strategy, and I’m going to miss him very much. In particular, I’m grateful for his work on both Policy 14 and as Chief Negotiator, and I wish it had not turned out that both of those issues had come to a peak of work at the same time.

This isn’t really FAUW-related, per se, but I was recently interviewed on Instagram Live by The Glow Centre, Waterloo’s LGBTQ student centre, about what it’s like to be an older (oh, dear) LGBTQ professional. I enjoyed everything about spending time with the students, but it especially reminded me just how much I learn from students whenever I spend time with them. Even with the challenge of this (endless!) pandemic, I hope you’re all getting reminded of just how lovely, and thought provoking, our students all are.

Notes from the Board discussion

  1. Fall term planning. We talked about what we know so far about how each Faculty is approaching the fall and returning to more in-person teaching. We’ll be getting into this more at the next meeting, so now is a good time to talk to a Board member about this! So far, most of the discussions about fall term are happening either in the Faculties or at Dean’s Council, neither of which we participate in. We’ve asked for the committee on timetabling, which we do participate in, to be restarted.

    Some best practices you could consider taking back to your unit that would ease the burden on everyone this fall include not assigning new course preps, and not demanding that instructors with a heavy teaching load teach a mix of in-person and online courses.

    It is our understanding that the usual accommodation process will apply, so if you anticipate needing an accommodation related to teaching in person, we recommend talking to your health-care provider about documentation soon. Accommodations do not have to be limited to having no teaching.  
Continue reading “March 18 Update from the FAUW Board”

Breaking down our 2021 Salary Settlement

To help clarify some of the implications and motivations of items in the new salary settlement, we’ve once again asked our chief negotiator (Bryan Tolson, this time) to provide some commentary. Below is the full text of the agreement with annotations, but first, here’s a quick, plain-language summary of the items in the agreement:

  • 1% scale increases each year for three years.
  • $85 for eye exams (for each person every two years).
  • A new compassionate care and bereavement leave policy that will provide:
    • A salary top-up (to 85%, for up to eight weeks) for members on a Critical Illness Leave or Family Medical Leave (minus Employment Insurance benefits received)
    • Four weeks of fully paid bereavement leave on the death of a spouse/partner, child, or step-child; one week on the death of any other immediate family member, such as a parent or sibling.
  • A deadline to start collecting faculty equity data, including on race and Indigeneity, and an update to the current salary anomaly review to identify and correct race-based anomalies once the data is ready. Corrections will be retroactive to May 1, 2021, and race and Indigeneity will be factors in future salary anomaly reviews.
  • A Memorandum of Agreement update so that faculty teaching all three terms in a year can now carry two weeks of vacation forward each year (up from one); for lecturers, these weeks will not expire until after their next non-teaching term.

Interpreting the agreement

Bill 124 limitations

Bill 124 limits public sector employee compensation increases to a maximum of 1% each year for a three-year period (our period is May 2021 – April 2024). Specifically, our average salary increase is capped at 1%, and our total “compensation entitlements” (total salary plus all benefits), is also capped at a 1% increase. (See the appendix at the end of this post for the language in the bill itself). Note that selective salary increases (merit) are not affected and will continue as usual.

Our bargaining team estimated that after the 1% scale increase, we had over $600 per member remaining for other items over the three-year deal. Our certified forensic accountant, Linda Robinson, led these calculations. Our actuarial costing, led by Mary Hardy from the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, shows the settlement items have a projected total increase in compensation entitlements of only $160 (items 5 through 8 generate no increase at all). This leaves room for additional benefit enhancements, particularly in the third year of the agreement, in which there is no additional spending as a result of this agreement beyond the scale increase.

Continue reading “Breaking down our 2021 Salary Settlement”

Highlights from the May 7 Board meeting

  1. We welcomed some new board members who officially start July 1 but are attending as guests to learn the ropes. We also noted two committee appointments: Ranjini Jha has agreed to continue her role on the Pension & Benefits Committee for another term, and Dorothy Hadfield is interim chair of the Lecturers Committee
  2. Reports from the Complementary Teaching Assessment Project Team and Course Evaluation Project Team are going to Senate on May 19. You can read them in the Senate agenda as soon as they’re posted (they should be up any minute now).. The first part of the Senate meeting is open to the public, but since guests can’t speak during the meeting, we encourage you to make sure our faculty senators know how you feel about the recommendations in these reports. 
  3. We got a preview of some of the options for health benefits plan changes that are being considered by the Holistic Benefits Working Group. The proposed options will eventually be public in a Pension & Benefits Committee agenda, at which point members can read and send feedback to FAUW and/or the faculty representatives on the Pension & Benefits Committee. 
  4. We are finishing assembling our negotiating team. We will be polling all our members about negotiation priorities over the next term, so start thinking about what you’d like to see. Section 10 of the Memorandum of Agreement has all the details about negotiations.
  5. We heard that administrators are starting to reach out to members regarding reduced workload to retirement, early retirement, and unpaid leaves of absence. If you are considering any of these options, we strongly encourage you to talk to our AF&T team first so they can help you identify the most appropriate solution for your situation (which could be an alternate to those being offered). This way, you can be as informed as possible when you speak to your Chair/Dean. 
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8 myths about UW lecturers

A post from the FAUW Lecturers Committee.

FAUW first started holding events specifically for Waterloo lecturers in 2014, but there have been lecturers on campus since at least the early ‘90s. With a distinct uptick in lecturer hiring over the last decade or two, there are now lecturers in every one of the University’s six faculties and they make up 18% of the FAUW membership. For many chairs, directors, deans—or just faculty colleagues—who are new to dealing with lecturer-rank faculty, there may be some uncertainty about who these people are and how they fit into their departments and schools. To help explain what lecturer faculty are—and aren’t—here are (in no particular order) eight myths about lecturers at Waterloo.

Myth #1: A lecturer is a lecturer is a lecturer

Fact: The term “lecturer” is often indiscriminately applied to everyone from sessional instructors hired by the course or term to permanent teaching faculty. At Waterloo, “lecturer” is one of the four faculty hiring ranks (the others are assistant professor, associate professor, and professor; see Policy 76 – Faculty Appointments). While sessional instructors are also hired at the rank of lecturer, they’re more correctly called adjunct or special lecturers and are administratively very different from the lecturer-rank regular faculty members (just “lecturers” from here on) that we’re talking about in this post.

Lecturers can have “definite term” or “continuing” appointments. Most lecturer-rank faculty are initially hired on definite-term contracts, which can be repeatedly renewed when they expire, although there is never any guarantee of renewal (see myth #7). Continuing lecturers have permanent, ongoing appointments that don’t have expiry dates. FAUW represents both definite-term and continuing lecturers (but not sessional instructors). About 40% of UW’s lecturers have continuing appointments.

Getting the terminology straight is just half the battle. The specifics of lecturer positions—how teaching loads are defined, what kinds of service and administrative tasks they do—can vary widely between faculties, and even between departments in the same faculty. According to our 2015 lecturers survey, about half of UW’s lecturers have an 80/20 teaching/service ratio; the other half reported a broad variety of teaching/research/service weightings.

Continue reading “8 myths about UW lecturers”

February at FAUW

Maybe it was the Valentine’s Day candy, or maybe it was the coming long weekend, but we got through the February 13 Board meeting in good time. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. We debriefed the recent Council of Representatives meeting. One topic at that meeting was the importance of Faculty Performance Evaluation Guidelines and departmental addenda. These documents are the place to look for information about what’s a “normal” workload in your department, how service is evaluated, or what counts as teaching. Right now is a good time to start working on updating those documents if they need it (new versions must be approved by October 15). Talk to your Council member for more information. Here are some suggestions for things to include:
    • An explicitly defined normal teaching load
    • The expected/normal supervision load
    • A statement acknowledging different types of teaching and teaching responsibilities
    • The ability to submit peer reviews of teaching and solicited comments or letters
    • That participation in CTE and other workshops counts toward teaching
    • The ability to use evidence not just from the classroom and qualitative evidence
    • Direction that student surveys should be considered with caution
  1. We noted some confusion among members about how benefits plan decisions are made. The Pension & Benefits Committee decides what’s covered in our health and dental plans, and that committee is made up of members from all the represented employee groups (FAUW, the Staff Association, and CUPE) and the Retirees Association, plus representatives from the University administration and Board of Governors. FAUW has three out of 13 votes on the committee.
  2. We heard updates from our rep on the Copyright Advisory Committee. If you have questions about copyright in your classes or your own work, read this interview with Lauren Byl, Copyright and Licensing Librarian, to find out how to get answers!
  3. We cleared up an issue about travel to Cuba. University Finance sent a memo last July stating that “international financial sanctions prevent the University from making or receiving payment for products or services related, either directly or indirectly” to certain countries including Cuba and Iran. We had serious concerns about how this might limit opportunities for research collaboration and questions about why the University was implementing American sanctions (Canada doesn’t have sanctions against Cuba). 
    We now have confirmation that the University can “reimburse an employee for travel expenses related to countries subject to sanctions, provided that the employee’s travel reimbursement is to a Canadian bank account and assuming that the travel to that particular country has not otherwise been prohibited under University of Waterloo Policy.” If you encounter any difficulties with claims for travel to countries subject to sanctions, let a FAUW Board or staff member so that we can follow up.”
  4. After hearing that definite term lecturers did not receive an email about nominations for University Senate, we reaffirmed, again, that, lecturers are regular faculty (and eligible to sit on Senate). “Regular faculty” almost exactly overlaps with “faculty represented by FAUW.” Here’s the short version: Regular faculty = lecturers and professors hired for at least one year, except research profs and adjuncts.
    • The slightly more complicated version, as defined in Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) is that regular faculty means all lecturer and professorial rank faculty with appointments one year or longer, including clinical faculty (e.g. a clinical lecturer or clinical associate professor), but not including any faculty who have some other qualifier in their title to designate a non-regular appointment, such as “research,” “adjunct,” “visiting,” or “special.” (Sessional instructors are not regular faculty; they aren’t defined anywhere, but they all have special or adjunct appointments and are hired on contracts shorter than one year.) We’ll have more on this in a blog post from the Lecturers Committee soon.
  5. As we reported in the fall, the Media Resources office and preview room closed when the person staffing the office retired. The resources are now available through the IST Service Desk located in the Davis Centre Library. We brought concerns about this to the University, and have now heard that things are staying essentially the same. There is a new viewing room available at the DC library. To request new materials, email media.loans@uwaterloo.ca. The Associate Vice President, Academic has promised to keep an eye on this, and we will too. Let us know if the office closure creates problems for you.

What’s on our agenda for 2020

Happy new year! Our big priority for this term is to keep moving forward on policy development and research professor representation. Here are some of the smaller (and not-so-small) things we talked about at the January 16 board meeting:

  1. OCUFA’s court challenge. OCUFA has voted to join ten unions representing more than 250,000 Ontario workers to launch a coordinated Charter challenge against the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act—formerly Bill 124—this is the legislation that forces our pay raises to be small for three years.
  2. The FAUW Appreciation Award. We’re starting to consider suggestions for this year’s recipient(s) of the FAUW Appreciation Award, which recognizes people from across the University who have gone above and beyond to improve the lives of faculty members.
  3. Professional licensing fees. We’re doing an environmental scan about how professional licenses are handled across campus. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of variation in terms of who needs to be licensed, how many people in a unit need to maintain their license, and who pays for it. For anyone who doesn’t know what we’re talking about, professional programs (e.g. planning, optometry, engineering) typically need a minimum number of faculty members to hold professional licenses in order to maintain the accreditation for their school/department/program.
  4. The switch from Scantron to Akindi. You have at least three options for digital grading solutions, including Akindi, UW’s new go-to “multiple-choice exam processing service.” One of our board members recommends Crowdmark as a way to reduce your workload. We’re exploring the possibility of hosting a lunch & learn on digital grading systems—let us know in the comments if you’d be interested. Learn more and register for Akindi training on the IST website.
Continue reading “What’s on our agenda for 2020”

Ethical Behaviour policy consultation + more from the September 26 Board meeting

A draft of Policy 33 (Ethical Behaviour) is out for consultation. Since this is the first policy that’s made its way to Faculty Relations Committee (FRC) for approval in a while, let’s review how this will work:

  1. Policy 33 is an “FS” policy, meaning that it affects both faculty and staff working conditions. FRC (that’s the group of FAUW Board members and admin that meets every two weeks to hash out working conditions, fix problems, and approve policies) and the Staff Relations Committee (SRC) jointly strike drafting committees for and then approve FS policies. 
  2. FRC and SRC will send the draft policy out for consultation to other groups. They will review all the feedback and tell the drafting committee what changes to make. 
  3. The updated draft policy then goes back to FRC and SRC for approval. Approval at FRC requires a double majority, which means both FAUW and admin have a veto.
  4. After FRC and SRC approve the policy, it goes on to be approved by the Board of Governors.

In the case of Policy 33, faculty and staff members will get a draft of the policy soon. We encourage you to provide feedback through the soon-to-be-announced process set up by the Secretariat. If necessary, we will also collect anonymous input through our FRC reps and Lori Curtis, AF&T Committee chair.

What else is going on right now?

  1. The Holistic Benefits Review is moving along—you’ll get a survey soon, asking for your input about University employee benefits.
  2. As we reported last time, Finance (incorrectly) used a new Consumer Price Index (CPI) source for indexing the 2018-2019 Faculty Professional Expense Reimbursement (FPER) amount, which led to each member getting $8.00 less than you should have last year. We’ve worked collegially with Finance to find a solution: reverting back to the previous CPI source moving forward and also making a one-time addition of $8.00 to your 2019-2020 FPER. This was the Board’s preferred solution. Special thanks to the member who investigated this thoroughly and brought it to our attention!
  3. We gave feedback on draft conflict of interest guidelines that FRC is working on. These apply to faculty hiring, performance review, tenure and promotion, and chair search committees. You can expect to see those later this term.
  4. We had a quick debrief about the New Faculty and Family Dinner that we co-hosted with the University on September 20. (The gist: it was great; everyone had fun; we’re looking forward to next year.)
  5. The Lecturers Committee held its first meeting of the year and is working on setting goals for the next few months. Let them know if you have suggestions.
  6. The Board approved FAUW’s audited financial statements for the fiscal year 2018–19. 

We’ll be talking about the progress made so far by the Complementary Teaching Assessment Project Team (CTAPT) (see the “Documents” sidebar) at an upcoming Board meeting. If you have input you’d like us to consider, let us know!

Highlights from the November 22 Board Meeting

This meeting was a bit of a preview of issues likely to come up at our Fall General Meeting on Tuesday, December 4. What’s a general meeting? Well, to start, it’s a great opportunity for you to speak with the FAUW board about issues that concern you, and for the board to report back to you what we’ve been doing this term. General meetings are also where we vote on association matters like financial statements, budgets, and constitution changes. We hope you’ll be able to join us on Tuesday.

In the meantime, here’s what we discussed at the November 22 meeting, including the lecturer salary working group, holistic benefits review, and breakfast!

Continue reading “Highlights from the November 22 Board Meeting”

Your Dental Benefits are Increasing in January

The Board is pleased to announce upcoming changes to your benefits. Here’s Alan Macnaughton, Pension and Benefits Committee liaison to the FAUW Board with the details. 

The University Board of Governors has approved dental plan enhancements effective January 1, 2019.

The 2018–21 salary settlement between the University and FAUW provided funds for an approximately 15% increase in the amount the University spends on health and dental plans combined for non-retired faculty members. The negotiations for other employee groups provided for a similar increase. This was a precedent-setting negotiations outcome; we’ve never negotiated an increase in benefits funding before.

Following procedure, the University’s Pension and Benefits Committee was responsible for deciding how to spend the money. The settlement provided only that the funds should be directed to areas with “broad participation.” The Committee decided on dental plan enhancements, and on October 30, the Board of Governors ratified this decision. The new rules apply to anyone covered by the dental plan, not just faculty (UW has the same pension and benefits plan for all employees).

What’s changing

The most important component of our dental plan is the coverage of basic costs—preventative treatments such as regular oral examinations, x-rays, fillings, extractions, root canals, and periodontal scaling. Presently, the plan reimburses 80% of the cost of these expenses as set out in the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) fee guide from two years ago (to a maximum of $2,193 per covered person). With the plan enhancement, coverage will be based on 95% of the ODA’s current fee guide. This is effective for treatments starting in January 2019. Continue reading “Your Dental Benefits are Increasing in January”